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Women's Football World Cup News
Sweden 2 (Schelin 29, Hammarstrom 82) France 1 (Thomis 56) at Sinsheim
A brilliant late winner from substitute Marie Hammarstrom earned Sweden a 2-1 victory over France in a highly entertaining Third Place play-off match in front of a capacity crowd in Sinsheim.
The game started as it was to carry on with both sides being evenly matched with Lotta Schelin wasting the best opportunity early on for the Swedes. France continued to play the football they have become renowned for during the course of the tournament but once more without the cutting edge that may well have prevented them from winning the ultimate prize.
Sweden were happy to try and soak up any French pressure and hit on the counter attack to their strong running forwards and this led to them taking the lead just before the half hour. Sara Larsson clipped a long ball over the French defence for Schelin to take one touch before neatly flicking the ball past Berangere Sapowicz to put her side ahead.
To add to France's woes, the unfortunate Sapowicz turned her ankle in trying to prevent the goal and she had to be stretchered off and replaced by Celine Deville. At the same moment, playmaker Louisa Necib also limped off with a knee injury with Elodie Thomis coming on.
However France responded well and were unlucky not to be back on level terms as Elise Bussaglia crashed a shot against the post from the edge of the area. The midfielder also forced a diving save from Hedvig Lindahl whilst Gaetane Thiney fired a chance over the bar.
Back came Sweden with Charlotte Rohlin heading over from a corner and then Schelin broke through from Josefine Oqvist's pass but Deville came off her line to make a good save.
The second half continued in the same vein but France finally found the finish their approach play deserved. There was initial controversy though as Sandrine Soubeyrand appeared to handle the ball when challenging Nilla Fischer but play went on and Thiney slid a pass through to Thomis who kept her cool and found the corner of the net beyond Lindahl's dive.
Sweden could well have gone back in front when Oqvist broke into the area but she did not strike her shot cleanly and the ball came back off the post and into the grateful arms of Deville. At the other end, it took a fine save from Lindahl to deny Thomis a second following a good move and, from the resulting corner, the winger headed just wide at the near post.
Sweden were reduced to ten players midway through the second half when, following a tangle near the goal line, Oqvist was red carded for lashing out at Sonia Bompastor, who was lucky to escape punishment herself after also appearing to aim a kick.
France were unable to make their player advantage count as Sweden defended strongly, superbly marshalled in the centre by the excellent Rohlin. The selfless running up front from Schelin also helped, the powerful striker taking the pressure off her side by holding the ball and keeping possession well.
With eight minutes remaining, Sweden struck a decisive blow with a goal worthy of winning any match. Although being fortunate to be awarded a corner which was really a goal kick, Therese Sjogran's kick was cleared as far as Hammarstrom who flicked the ball over Eugenie Le Sommer and beat Bompastor before unleashing an unstoppable left foot shot which rocketed past a helpless Deville and into the top corner of the net.
There was no coming back for France and Sweden celebrated wildly at the final whistle over their bronze medal performance which had perhaps exceeded expectations.
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl, Charlotte Rohlin, Linda Forsberg (sub Marie Hammarstrom 62mins), Annica Svensson, Nilla Fischer (sub Linda Sembrant 73mins), Sara Thunebro, Sara Larsson, Lotta Schelin, Lisa Dahlkvist, Josefine Oqvist, Therese Sjogran.
France: Berangere Sapowicz (sub Celine Deville 32mins), Corine Franco (sub Caroline Pizzala 84mins), Elise Bussaglia, Laura Georges, Wendie Renard, Sandrine Soubeyrand, Louisa Necib (sub Elodie Thomis 32mins), Sonia Bompastor, Eugenie Le Sommer, Camille Abily, Gaetane Thiney.
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